Archive | July, 2010

Nature’s Humility

28 Jul

Beautiful skies were just a small part of Mananagua's charm

The cruel irony of life often strikes when we least expect it. Mother Nature seems to have no regard for our plans, and whether we like it or not rain will come as quickly as sunshine and storms as easily as clear skies. Unpredictable in her beauty as equally as her wrath, Mother Nature will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of time.

While in the Dominican Republic, sun was abundant and provided a brilliant contrast to rusted corrugated tin  roofs and dusty streets around the Mananagua area, which was the location of our biggest shirt drop yet. An artist’s dream, the scenery was beautiful in its own right, and the smiles of children and adults alike added a shining light to the sun’s rays that only pure happiness can.

After passing out 400 shirts to children in the Dominican, our team returned home tired after a long day of connecting flights, but forever changed. The families that welcomed them into their homes to learn about life in the Dominican demonstrated patience on all levels as Kevin and others did their best to use enough broken Spanish to speak with them. Incomparable friendships and bonds were formed among the people of Mananagua and our team, who helped construct homes and pass out Be A Number shirts to the children.

Kevin's mom pauses for a picture with an adorable little boy

It’s hard to describe, then, the sinking feeling that comes with hearing news that within days of our departure from the Dominican, flooding claimed its power over the town. While those we met were unharmed as far as we could tell, homes were flooded, thousands were evacuated, and water swelled waist-high. Particularly heartbreaking was watching video and images with children in Be A Number shirts in the background.  Though the experience in the Dominican had been such a positive one and our team returned with more confidence in our cause, nature was a step behind us with a reminder that we can never take things for granted and can never stop working for a better world.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to all our friends in the Dominican, as well as those we don’t know, who are working to keep their families safe and healthy, all the while finding shelter and putting their lives back together. We will do our best to update all of you on their progress as new information becomes available, but take a moment to think of them each day, and consider reaching out to them in your own way.

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How We Work

15 Jul

It’s no secret that we’re young and full of ideas here at Be A Number, so we often get the question “how do you work so hard when you’re so young?”

Sure, we work hard, but why can’t we have fun at the same time? When we’re not working on our own projects to further Be A Number, we work together to brainstorm, design, and create new programs and publications to reach the masses. Over the years, after completing all the homework, writing all the papers, and studying for all the tests that came with school, we all seemed to come to the same conclusion: if you don’t like what you’re working on, or if you”re not having fun with it, it’s going to take longer to finish and you’ll be bitter about it.

So what can make work fun? Take a couple tips from us: keep the music turned up, laugh (a lot), and explore! We’ve been known to play everything from country to the billboard top 40 playlist, but no matter what it is, we keep it loud so that it doesn’t feel like we’re working in an elevator. Representative Coordinator and Promotions Director Liz has been known to Rickroll people from time to time via email to lighten the mood, and Kevin likes to surprise everyone with the camera on his phone, snapping pictures of us making weird faces or slipping on ice in the winter. We prefer to drive to shirt drops or presentations instead of flying, and road trips are perfect for spur-of-the-moment adventures. If you catch us on the road, you’d probably see us dancing in our seats to the music we’re playing or laughing at our latest wrong turn (we can’t seem to find anyone who’s good with directions!).

We found this beautiful horse when we took a wrong turn down a dirt road in South Dakota

Arguably the best demonstration of a good road trip came on April Fool’s Day 2010 when Kevin and Liz were en route home after the shirt drop in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. They spent hours calling friends and family beginning in the early morning hours with pranks ranging from a broken-down, smoking car to confusing engagement stories. When both phones were almost dead, they turned to a heated argument over which 90s boy band was better: NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys.

In between jokes, impromptu adventures, and loud music, a lot happens: we think of brand new concepts for the future of Be A Number, organize speaking engagements, coordinate with groups who want to spread the Be A Number movement to their followers, and send dozens of emails every day. “What if we…” and “I can’t believe how much we just got done” are some of our most frequently said phrases and we make new to-do lists all the time. See, the way we think is: we work for kids around the world. If we’re going to work for them, we can’t work like we’re in Office Space II.

Try it sometime: find a way to have some fun at work. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish and how many new ideas you’ll think of.

Breaking Borders

9 Jul

Today is a big day for us here at Be A Numberour founder, his mom, and 400 shirts are headed to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic this morning. They’ll be working alongside members of Willow Creek church to build houses in the Santo Domingo area, and will be passing out shirts in their “down time.”

Kevin's mom is ready for the Dominican! Here she is on the plane just before take-off!

Our shirt drops began in March 2010, and since then, we have had the opportunity to hand-deliver shirts to elementary students in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, children disabled from Pallister-Killian Syndrome, and now we’re crossing international borders to help children in the Dominican.

It’s incredible what an idea in the middle of the night not quite a year ago has led to. The friendships forged and the connections made have been humbling to all of us, but nothing compares to the children we’re lucky enough to meet and spend time with. They have been a constant source of motivation, inspiration, and most importantly, dreams. They constantly show us what it truly means to dream. As they explore the world around them and encounter all new experiences each day, the children we work for have shared their ideas and goals with us, and we couldn’t be more proud of each of them.

So, as we wait anxiously for updates and photos from the Dominican, those of us back here in the States will be working hard to keep spreading the word about our worldwide (!!) movement to give children hope and help them keep dreaming while they teach us to do the same.

Want to help spread the word? Share a link to the blog, Facebook page, and Twitter, or even the website with friends and family :)

Also, follow our new LinkedIn account!

A New Kind of Freedom

6 Jul

As the 4th of July weekend came and went, we celebrated our nation’s birthday with good friends and family, watching fireworks and enjoying some time at the local beaches. Across the United States, families packed up a cooler, sparklers, and the kids and headed to the local fireworks displays. In our 234 year history, Americans have seen war,  peace, and everything in between, but all under a beautiful shroud of freedom. After conquering our own forms of oppression and  inequality, both generations ago and more recently, it would seem we here in America are at the top of our game.

However, even now, some parts of our own country see an oppression that isn’t publicized often: hopelessness. Especially after the recent economic problems, more and more families are forced to choose between food and medicine, education and a small salary, or shelter and clothing.  A quick drive into the nearest inner city neighborhoods makes this point disturbingly clear.

Where does that leave our children? If it takes a village to raise a child, should we not at least give them a little hope? We think so. With every shirt we give to a child, we leave them with a special message: no matter what challenges life hands them, they are to work hard, never give up, and always remember that we care about them. Each shirt we give to a child is a match of a shirt that someone else purchased. To these children, the shirt represents hope for a better tomorrow because they have proof that they are not alone and will never be forgotten. As they continue to change our lives, we will continue to change the world.

While driving to New Jersey to visit the PKS Kids, this seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel

Think about it this way: if one child receives a shirt and clutches it dearly during the hard times, knowing that someone is rooting for them, even though the two have never met, and that child goes on to be the first person in his family to graduate high school, he is automatically given a better chance at a happier life. Next, he goes on to college and becomes a doctor, eventually saving dozens of lives during his career.  Multiply this impact hundreds of times over, and the world will be much different. Just a little hope goes a long way, and it could be the key to a new kind of freedom, the freedom of hope, and thus, the freedom of dreams.

As you go about your busy day, think about this quote we came across from Mitch Albom:

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

Giving hope gives us purpose, what drives you?